Gender inclusion

Women make up 46 per cent of the Australian workforce but are under-represented in leadership positions. This is true for the corporate sector as well as the co-operative and mutual sector.

For the co-operative and mutuals sector, there is more than just a business case for inclusion and equality. Co-ops and mutuals are controlled by members and are guided by values and principles that promote inclusion. From their earliest days, CMEs have empowered ordinary people with the means to control their own financial futures and to have a stake in their own enterprises. These are organisations already imbued with the characteristics that can make this sector a leader on inclusion and the empowerment of women.

The BCCM’s Eliza’s project: Gender inclusion in the CME sector in Australia report provided a benchmark of gender inclusion in co-ops and mutuals asked leaders for their ideas about how to improve the representation of women in their businesses.

While there is no single solution several recommendations emerged:

  • People want access to flexible work; not just as a “tick the box” policy but as a workplace practice that is embedded in the culture and has full support of the leadership.
  • People want access to leadership training and sponsorship; there is a clear pattern of women getting “stuck” in middle management, and what is needed are initiatives to help women move beyond this point, and that, once again, these are supported by the leadership.
  • A commitment to change starts at the top, with boards and executive teams.

BCCM is working with Women in Mutuals, the Customer Owned Banking Association and industry leaders to develop a cross-sector broad diversity and inclusion plan for Australian co-ops and mutuals. If you are interested in this project please contact the BCCM.

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